Farmland, open space near downtown Jamesport to be preserved

Elected Officials, Community Celebrate Land Deal

Riverhead Town Historian Georgette Keller speaks at a press conference announcing the preservation of two key parcels in Jamesport on November 14. Behind her, from left to right, are David Martine, Shinnecock tribal history information officer; William Van Helmond, president of the Greater Jamesport Civic Association; Riverhead Councilwoman Catherine Kent, Councilman James Wooten Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski, and historian Richard Wines. Independent/Courtesy Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski

Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski announced on Wednesday, November 14, that the county acquired the development rights to more than 32 acres of prime farmland and the adjacent 11.2 acres of open space in the heart of historic downtown Jamesport. The acquisition comes after 15 years of community effort to protect the land and despite two prior development proposals.

At a press conference announcing the deal, Krupski thanked the many individuals, including the previous landowner who agreed to preserve his property rather than develop it, and the organizations that worked to protect the historic and culturally significant parcels, including the Greater Jamesport Civic Association, Riverhead Town, and the Native American community.

After walking the site that morning, Krupski said, “This is such an important site, really impressive and part of our history that should be
memorialized properly.”

The open space parcel, which is known by many as Sharper’s Hill, will be improved as a hamlet park in partnership with Riverhead Town and includes land that sited a Native American cemetery.

The farmland development rights were purchased for $58,000 per acre, the open space for $175,000 per acre.

The owner of the farm acreage will retain ownership while the open space will be owned by the county and maintained by the town. Legislator Krupski sponsored the legislation, which initiated the preservation process, and he successfully shepherded the acquisition through the county legislative process.

“Sharper’s Hill will be a beautiful addition to our community, for all our residents to enjoy,” said Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith. “None of this would have been possible without multiple levels of government and private individuals coordinating to better the quality of life for their neighbors. I cannot thank Legislator Krupski, the Greater Jamesport Civic Association, and all the town officials enough who worked so hard to preserve this land for future generations, and maintain Jamesport’s rural character.”

Greater Jamesport Civic Association president William Van Helmond said it was “a wonderful day for Jamesport’” and that the vision of his group was to preserve its downtown area. He went on to recognize his predecessor, South Jamesport resident Angela DeVito, calling her a “pioneer” and stating, “the preservation wouldn’t have happened without her hard work.”

In a written statement, DeVito said, “I would like to thank Legislator Al Krupski for listening carefully and thoughtfully to our plea for assistance with this significant preservation effort. Once we met, we found not only interest, but a determination to find the means to affect a decidedly win-win resolution to a long-standing source of concern for our community. I shall forever cherish his hard work and that of his staff throughout the entire process as well as his ability to include all parties at the table. Thank you. This work’s celebration is a tribute to your remarkable capabilities as a legislator and your vision for the North Fork as a citizen.”

David Martine, who represented the Shinnecock Nation as its tribal history information officer, referenced the tribe’s 10,000-year history on Long Island when he stated, “The site represents a most sacred time period of our life here. It’s so ancient; it is hard to imagine. To have something like this preserved is very moving.”

sjkotz@indyeastend.com